30. Gigi (B-)
Continuing my little project of checking out old Best Picture winners; this was 1958's. A spectacular success in its day (it won 9 competition Oscars, breaking Gone With The Wind
's record at the time; though notably, it's one of the few winners to have no acting nominations), it marked the beginning of a ten-year period (1958-1968) that could be called the golden age of the musical, where five of the ten BP winners in that era were musicals. West Side Story
, My Fair Lady
, and The Sound of Music
are all well-remembered to this day. Gigi
are somewhat more obscure, particularly the former, since it's not based on a famous Charles Dickens novel.
I debated how to grade this one, from B- to B+, because I actually quite enjoyed watching it, but I decided that quite a bit of the enjoyment came from the film's status as a cultural curio, not because of any particular inherent quality. Mainly, I find it fascinating to consider how different 1950s society was in terms of keeping sex out of the public discourse that you could have a jaunty musical number called "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" and nobody would think it was kind of creepy. The film does have a nice undercurrent of wit to it, but it's dramatically inert; there's not really much conflict, and no villain, which is disappointing in a musical as they usually have the best songs. And the songs, apart from the aforementioned "Thank Heaven", aren't particularly memorable. The production looks amazing, I must say, making great use of numerous Parisian locations. Maurice Chevalier's performance as the ribald old uncle is quite memorable.